As the sounds of helicopters and the chants of protesters rang in the distance, I couldn’t help but think about how I can make an impact.
I was shocked—and frankly saddened—to see very little acknowledgement of the Black Lives Matter movement in the event industry, and even fewer actionable ways to create change. This prompted my LinkedIn post, which can be read below and is a long overdue call to action for everyone in the live and virtual event space: we need to do our part to promote the voices of people of color.
Right now, leadership should be striving for at least 30% of their event content to represent underrepresented demographics, namely people of color. Mandate that content producers and conference programmers use new sources. Incentivize them, if necessary, or look at alternative ways to host speakers such as video conferences. More often than not, content is sourced by the same “industry experts,” “advisory boards” and “calls for papers” sent to the same lists over and over and over. If people of color aren’t in this group, it’s harder for them to get on stages.
My commitment is to give the industry no reason to fail at this again. Resources, ideas and initiatives will be coming soon.
As an industry that has one of the largest platforms for sharing voices—regardless of whether you are in B2B, B2C, live or virtual events—we have the responsibility to elevate underrepresented voices. Particularly in the B2B industry, our stages have been disproportionately white and male. I’ve fought to create more gender equal spaces over the years; however, I realize that is not enough. We must hold ourselves accountable for diversity—particularly people of color and minorities. Whether the content is digital or physical, I am challenging us all to set the bar higher, to make our stages and screens inclusive of new, different voices. Leadership, mandate this must happen. Hold yourselves and your teams accountable. Create measurable goals and enforce them. Producers, you must seek new sources. Showcase diverse voices. Highlight a range of perspectives. Help industries progress. You can do this during your discovery stages. Throwing up a panel called "Diversity in the industry" isn't good enough. It must appear seamless. I don’t have all the answers, but I commit to posting resources for this community to grow, from new speakers to authors to events I see that are getting it right. I commit to my clients that I will help create experiences that challenge social issues and hold us both accountable to exploring people of color in your industries and including them in your content. There is no more time for excuses. This is my commitment today and everyday moving forward. The event industry holds more power to change the world than you think. Be cautious and use this power wisely, friends. Let's all change the stage.